Creative Career Advancement Grant

Program Summary

The Creative Career Advancement Grant was a matching grant that helped Colorado mid-career creative entrepreneurs and artists to grow their commercial creative businesses.

Awards ranged from $500 to $2,500 to:

  • increase revenue
  • build new audiences
  • improve management practices

Requests needed to have a funding ratio of 1-to-1 non-grant funding to grant funding. For example, if you request $1,000, the total costs for the proposed activity needs to be at least $2,000 and you need to prove that you have a personal or donated contribution of at least $1,000 in cash.

  This program is closed for the forseeable future. Sign up for the Colorado Creative Industries newsletter to learn more about other opportunities.


Type: Grant

For: Artists and creative businesses

Amount: $500 to $2,500 per application

OEDIT division: Colorado Creative Industries

To apply for this grant, you need to:

  • be an individual artist/creative entrepreneur or creative sector business (commercial or for-profit only) in one of the eligible creative occupations (PDF)
  • be 18 years old or older and a resident of Colorado (and submit copies of at least two of these records: driver’s license, voter registration card, or tax document)
  • not have received Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) funding in 12 months of the application deadline
  • not be a current State of Colorado employee
  • not be a part of a nonprofit organization, religious or sectarian organization, K-12 school, or higher education institution in an official capacity

Eligible expenses

This grant supports a diverse array of creative work. For example, you can use this grant to:

  • participate in an exhibit, festival, vendor showcase, or artist residency including art supplies, registration, lodging expenses, airfare
  • present at a conference or symposium
  • purchase equipment and materials to expand or improve your business
  • enroll in professional development workshops or engage consultants and coaches to build administrative and business skills
  • develop or upgrade technology related to business practices
  • develop promotional materials such as electronic media kits with high-resolution images

You cannot use this grant for:

  • activities exclusively for artistic skill-building
  • funding to offset regular business operating costs, including regular salary or wages
  • buildings or construction
  • business start-up costs
  • laptops, computers, iPads
  • food and beverages
  • companion expenses
  • regular operating costs to create music, including recording and mixing
  • expenses from before the project period

If you are not sure if your project is eligible, please contact the program manager before you apply.

Applications will no longer being accepted. Please sign up for the CCI newsletter to stay updated on other opportunities.

Application checklist

To complete your application, you will need:

  • narrative or video (see below)
  • resume (for an individual artist/sole proprietor) or a company summary (for a business)
  • 1 to 3 work samples
  • certificate of Good Standing from the Colorado Secretary of State no more than three months old (universities and municipalities are exempt)
  • letter of acceptance or evidence of exclusive invitation (only for exhibit, festival, or vendor showcases)
  • consultant’s professional bio or resume and signed letter of commitment on letterhead from proposed consultant (only for those requesting funds for consultant)
  • budget (see below)

Narrative or video

Questions are grouped by career impact and artistic merit. Answer all of the questions in both groups below in a written essay or video. If you write an essay, type your answers in a word processing program, check your word counts, then cut and paste the text into the online application. If you record a video, answer the questions in order in the five-minute time limit.

Career Impact

  • Provide an elevator pitch in a sentence or two. What do you do, and why do you need funds? (350-word limit)
  • If I get funding, this will happen for my business
    • Examples: estimated new revenue, increase in customers or website hits, national recognition by increased invitations to present, sales of work or products in untapped markets
  • Measurable examples of how this funding will advance my business are
    • Example: “This will increase my ____by____%” (Provide up to three examples)
  • My proposed timeline is
    • Project start date:
    • Benchmark goals and dates:
    • Project end date:
  • This is not a normal cost of doing business because ____. (350 word limit)

Artistic Merit

  • I have been pursuing my creative career for the following number of years, and I received training or education from (Provide up to three examples) (350-word limit)
  • Share a highlight of your professional career in your current discipline. (350-word limit)


The online application lets you describe estimated costs such as consultant or service providers, travel, and equipment. You will need to provide details and website links in your budget summary. You can use this Career Advancement Award Budget Summary Template (XLS) to plan your answer.

This is a competitive award program, and not all applicants receive funding. Judging panels review applications on these criteria:

Career impact (40%)

We encourage you to forecast specific quantitative and qualitative benefits. Strong proposals will use analytics and account for how they will measure the impact.

  • Clear and specific business goals and measurable benefits for the business or project
  • Distinctive or innovative approaches to business or professional development
  • If appropriate, the identified consumer need or desire for the product or service

Artistic merit (40%)

  • Artistic quality and merit of the creative products or services
  • Qualifications, background, and experience of applicant

Budget (20%)

  • Appropriateness of the costs associated with the proposed activity
  • The purpose for which you will use the funds

We notify you if you won the matching grant. We will only reimburse the activities you specified in your application and actual expenses that you paid during the project period.

If you are awarded funds, you will need to save all of your receipts to prove your expenses. After you complete the proposed activity, you will submit your final report and expense receipts.

After we review and approve your final report and expense receipts, we will reimburse you.

You need to include a Colorado Creative Industries logo in all announcements and promotional materials and publicly credit Colorado Creative Industries at any public events related to your grant-funded program and activities.  Recipients may also use the current National Endowment for the Arts logo if desired.

You need to submit a final report about how you met your organizational and project goals and the community impact of the activities. Final reports need to include a financial report for the funded activity clearly showing how you spent the money, numbers of people and communities served, and numbers of artists and youth the project engaged. Grant recipients who do not submit final reports are ineligible for further Colorado Creative Industries funding.

As a condition of the grant, Colorado Creative Industries requires the recipient of public funds to comply with all state terms (PDF) and federal terms (PDF). All material submitted regarding application for grant funds becomes the property of the State of Colorado and is subject to the terms of Colorado Revised Statutes 24-72-201 through 24-72- 206, Public Open Records. The State of Colorado has the right to use any or all information/material presented in reply to the Announcement, subject to limitations for proprietary or confidential information. Disqualification or denial of the application does not eliminate this right. Any restrictions on the use or inspection of material contained within the proposal shall be clearly stated in the proposal itself. The contents of the application will become contractual obligations if the project is funded.

Colorado Creative Industries can withhold, reduce, or cancel awards if a grantee:

  • misses deadlines for reports
  • does not notify the Colorado Creative Industries of significant management changes or instances of fraud or embezzlement
  • fails to comply with the grant award requirements
  • demonstrates inadequate financial management and oversight
  • does not properly credit support from Colorado Creative Industries

Colorado Creative Industries requires recipients of public funds to comply with all state and federal laws and regulations, including but not limited to:

  • Fair Labor Standards – Meet requirements for minimum wage and working conditions.
  • Nondiscrimination – Statutes prohibite discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, color, creed, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry or marital status.
  • Audit – All applications accepted for funding become official records of the State of Colorado and are subject to an audit. Colorado Creative Industries requires open access to accounting records for award funds spent for the purpose of audit examination, reference, or transcription.
  • Drug-Free Work Place – Comply to the extent applicable with the Drug-Free Work Place Act of 1988.
  • Fair Language – To comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, grant recipients need to take adequate steps to provide language assistance so people with limited English proficiency can meaningfully access programs, activities, and services.
  • Access for People with Disabilities – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. All events funded by Colorado Creative Industries need to be accessible to people with disabilities including visual, hearing, mobility, and learning impairments. If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact Access Gallery at 303-777-0797.

Grantee agrees to send a letter to their state legislators, informing them of the importance of state funding. 

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